Sid Hirdaramani has a specific challenge. The Hirdaramani Group controlled by his family for over a century specialises in manufacturing clothing for several global brands. The group was among the few companies that mastered lean manufacturing, to survive the post-U.S. ready-made clothes quota-free era. With margins always under pressure, Hirdaramani has to offer its clients quality products, shorten lead times and provide value-added services around design & innovations and supply chain solutions.
Hirdaramani studied political science in Washington DC, and went on to work in New York. There, he got into hedge fund management for four years, in both sales and investments. He later went on to obtain a Masters of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship and Finance, moving back to Sri Lanka in 2011. The group has expanded out of Sri Lanka, with presence in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Vietnam and Ethiopia, employing 60,000 people in 33 production facilities.
“We’re very lean on our front-end, and very high-tech in our manufacturing. But we need smart marketing and salespeople with a background in tech to come to us.”
The Hirdaramani Group has done well for itself. However, it is somehow less well known than its rival firms; and those rivals attract the best talent. A third-generation member of the controlling family, Hirdaramani made it a priority to address this challenge around attracting talent so that the group can scale.
“We realised that people recognised the name ‘Hirdaramani’ because of the work my grandfather did,” he says. “He started various clothing labels using the name, and even now if you ask anyone in their 60s, they’ll say, ‘Yes, I bought my shirts from them: they were the best shirts in the country.’”
But this heritage did little to help the group that now faces competition for talent, especially the younger generation. “We’re very lean on our front-end, and very high-tech in our manufacturing. But we need smart marketing and salespeople with a background in tech to come to us,” Hirdaramani says.
To address the awareness challenge, Hirdaramani has rebranded. But it’s not been an overnight project and continues today. “It starts with what our values are as a company. We’ve always had these values, but we’ve now branded them to be more future-oriented,” he says. By aligning branding to corporate culture, they see improvements in talent acquisition and retention. Hirdaramani has several roles in the business, including strategy, and business development. But focusing on branding and communications is one area in which he has shown significant leadership in.